This could have easily been one of the most spiritual/powerful weeks on my mission thus far. As you know, our zone is preparing 11 people to be baptized next week. We decided to fast this Sunday to help these people be prepared and for the Lord to show us miracles in the work. It's a powerful spirit when 16 missionaries kneel down in prayer to open a fast. We all have faith and we knew the Lord would bless us, but I don't think any of us could have predicted what He gave us.
It wasn't a typical Sunday. We had Stake Conference so we all met at the chapel and took a double decker bus to another chapel 20 minutes away. Stake Conference was great, we had some investigators there and it was a really good meeting. Side note: Elder Baker and his wife were getting ready to leave that morning and thought they had better put a sign on the chapel door saying church services would be at another chapel. Just in case anyone showed up and had forgotten, they also included the address. So, we return back to the chapel and continued on with our day, teaching lessons, etc.
Now for the other part of this story: there are two men named S________ and U________, and they are in the U.S. Navy. They have been at sea for the past few months. U________ is a member of the Church and attends the small branch on the ship every Sunday. S________ is not a member and has been learning from his friends on the ship while they've been at sea. They docked in Sydney Sunday morning and found our chapel. When they saw the sign on the door, they came to Stake Conference and attended the session. Afterwards, they came back to our chapel to find some missionaries who could teach S________. Our zone leaders had some open time so they gladly offered to teach him a little bit. We soon find out that S________ has been learning from his friends for the past month and a half and has had some experiences which have led him to know that the Church is true, and that the Book of Mormon is from God. He simply came up to the missionaries and said, "I know it's all true, and I want to be baptized, but I leave tomorrow, what can you do?"
With some scrambling by everyone, we were able to take some of the elders appointments so they could have a few hours to teach S_______ EVERYTHING, and a baptism for 7 p.m Sunday night was organized. We only had an hour or so to prepare, but we got the word out and there were over 30 of us at attendance to his baptism. Now all of us are just in shock, can't believe this man just showed up at our chapel and now is getting baptized all in the same day. This doesn't happen but due to the circumstances, President Howes gave special permission for the baptism to be held. I can tell you the Spirit at the baptism was already strong, but when S________ and his friend U_______ walked into the font, there was silence. Tears were streaming down everybody's face as we watched S________ be baptized. Never before have I felt the Spirit so strongly at a baptism, and I hadn't even had the chance to shake his hand yet.
Afterwards, S________ was first to bear his testimony, how he had rejected the bible for nearly his whole life, but couldn't deny the Spirit he felt on board the ship in the little branch held for one hour every Sunday. Then U________ got up and shared his view of this whole experience. He is a return missionary. He was packing for his trip overseas and was just grabbing some last minute things from the house when he came across some military scriptures. He felt like he should bring them, even though he had his own scriptures, as well as additional scriptures on his phone and IPad. But he said within the first week, he met S________ on the ship and gave him his military scriptures which he began to read from every spare second. Both men bore powerful testimonies, and again, the Spirit was undeniable. An experience I will never forget. All of us missionaries kept looking at each other and saying, "This can't be real...."...but it is. The Lord blessed us with a miracle, He always fulfills His promises to us.
Trade-offs this week were really good. One thing I love about serving a mission is all the different people we get to meet. We met a really sweet old lady named ________. She suffers from a brain aneurysm, but she typically forgets things after about 20 seconds. She'll be telling us all about her grandson, how he's 33 and still not married, etc. Then within a minute later she's telling us all about her grandson, how he's 33 and still not married. She is the cutest thing - I met a real life Dory (from Finding Nemo), but she is lovely. The sisters informed me she went to church last Sunday, good to hear.
Sister Slade and I are helping ________ prepare for baptism next week, she is so GOOD! She and her boyfriend will be baptized next week. I couldn't ask for anything more, it has been such a great week. Many more miracles I could share but I don't have enough time. How blessed am I? Of course we can't have everything.....our hot water is still broken haha, freezing showers...but hey...I'll exchange hot water for miracles any day!
Today I'll be attending a wedding, yes...one of our recent converts is getting married at the court house today, they've invited us to be the witnesses, I am thrilled! Pictures to come next week. I love all of you, have a great week!